Wings of Desire Review – Wim Wenders’ lyrical hymn for cold war broken Berlin | Film

Wim Wenders’ incredibly sad, deeply literary romantic fantasy, co-composed with Peter Handke, was re-released and now looks more than anything like the elegy “symphony of the city” about Berlin. It’s incredible to think that just two years after the film came out, the Wall and the division of the city into east and west – which seemed poetically fixed and unchanging like the shoreline of a river – disappeared. With its awe-inspiring crane and helicopter shots, Wenders’ film soars and soars over the city, sharply beyond the hated walls, embodying Berlin’s longing to somehow overcome the gravity of history and overcome this ugly barrier.

Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander play Damiel and Cassiel, two angels in the skies over Berlin who entertain themselves by observing and studying everyone in the crowded city below them. They can hear what these humans are thinking and feeling. They roam freely, everywhere, through the still half-destroyed city of Berlin and their musings are interspersed with archival footage of the capital being destroyed in 1945. Children can see angels, but not adults – except for one adult, a film actor. Hollywood’s Peter Falk, who had come to Berlin to shoot a film that seemed to be set in the second world war, and somehow sensed an angel in front of him. Falk’s presence is a reminder of Wenders’ unique love of America and blends America’s cultural presence in Europe: fittingly enough, as Berlin itself was the center of prewar Germany. americanismushis fierce love for everything from the US.

Damiel has fallen in love with a circus trapeze artist named Marion (Solveig Dommartin), and marvels at the whimsical exotic art of his acts. He longs to leave his immortality and god status behind so he can meet Marion and persuade her to fall in love with him – even though it’s a measure of his still godlike belief that he never doubted that this would happen. Damiel longs to submit to time itself and the sensual embrace of growth, aging, and death. Cassiel sympathized, though without wanting to join him, and joined in the musings on human pleasures and death, how exciting it was to “be enthusiastic about evil for once – be a savage!”

Angels soar and brood, especially in the lovingly photographed Berlin State Library, and certainly no library has ever been so eagerly immortalized on film. They find Homer himself (Curt Bois) who wants to bring the city down on paper. There’s an incredible sequence in which they wander through Potsdamer Platz trying to remember what it was like: in 1987 it was still desert, wasteland, and almost gloomy countryside.

Wenders has something about Frank Capra or Powell and Pressburger with this story of a kind angel, and something about Marcel Carné or even TS Eliot’s The Waste Land. Maybe Wings of Desire is a little out of date, but it’s a cinema of ideas, almost essay-like, and very distinctive.

Wings of Desire was released on June 24 in theaters.

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